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Thread: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

  1. #161
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    OK, coaches have not yet stepped up to recruit. That's not unexpected. The title of this discussion is how does USMS get to 100,000 members?

    How about why? There are many current members who will see the growth very personally and in a negative light, feeling that they have to share a training lane with 2 more people. USMS sould be actively going out and getting new clubs started and on a sustainable growth path. Still, why? USMS tries very hard to attract outside money for operations. This is done primarily from the national office and is the main reason we even decided to hire an executive director. USMS has been told more than once by very large potential sponsors that 100K was the magic number of members.

    Shall we continue to follow the current path of having one or two people in the NO make calls begging for money? Or make a concerted effort to rapidly attain the goal of 100K members in order to ease the burden of costs that mainly fall upon the membership in constantly rising dues?

    Shall we continue to slavishly pander to the tiny OW segment that we have been chasing for 6+ years in hopes there was a growth opportunity not yet exploited? Doing that only cost USMS $1+ million in elevated insurance premiums over the last 3 years. Great plan, huh? And we continue to plaster OW pictures and stories in the magazine. Apparently someone thinks the insurance companies are stupid. Perhaps if we went back to putting OW in perspective; as a part of the organization that is to be supported by USMS commensurate with its actual membership, rather than making it a poster child that costs USMS bundles of money in premium payments for as long as we persist with this program.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine, not those of U.S. Masters Swimming. But maybe they should be.

  2. #162
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Michael: Think we do it by encouraging more facilities, newer or non-USMS, to have Masters programs, particularly in winter. Baby boomers are aging, want to be healthy, and not always have good weather to run or bike. Why not swim more, particularly in winter? Do we send out information packets, target those facilities? We, in our area, are one of the Top 25 Swimming cities, yet we have few formal Masters programs on this side of our State, MI, whether they be a club, like our own Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics Masters, or a workout group, like Stray Cats, of the Regional Club, Michigan Masters, based on the other side of the state. Think targeting those facilities would help move us toward 100,000 members, without crowding lanes already in use, or begging for $$/sponsors. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, MH; I'll listen/read others' comments, now. JP

  3. #163
    Very Active Member cjr's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Growth is equal to Marketing - It's all about bringing the product to the market space. We current Master swimmers are good at telling ourselves our own story. We do it on the forums. We do it at convention every year. We need to be telling the Non-Master swimmer about us. It is those individuals at the facilities that are “just lap swimmers”. The folks that swam summer league during their youth. Look at our mission statement, “To promote health, wellness, fitness and competition for adults through swimming.” The second word is key (IMHO), PROMOTE. There needs to be an initiative at a NATIONAL level. Much like the article that ran last August in the Wall Street Journal, we need an advertisement/communication say as an example in the USA Today newpaper. A one page ad that showcases the logo and website would catch people’s attention. Thinking outside the box is what is going to help us expand that box. We have three Core Objectives; “Service the membership”, “Educate the membership”, and “Build the membership”. We have performed admirably on the first two, now we need to execute on the third.
    C.J. Rushman
    Great Lakes Zone Chair
    Kentucky LMSC Chair
    ASCA Level III USA/Masters Certified Coach
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

  4. #164
    Very Active Member Nichollsvi's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    One area that is a problem is there is not much that encourages people who learned to swim as adults (or will learn) into the program. Unless one goes to meets, there's not a forced reason to be in USMS. There isn't a lot of support you get otherwise in terms for your money, and do people really need to improve or want to improve, their strokes? You can talk about the discounts you get for being a member.

    Otherwise, if I just learned to swim, what is in it for me? What do the Y's or other groups, what can they do, in terms of promoting things when it is very small the # of people who swim due to expense and time?

  5. #165
    Active Member f1refl1es!'s Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    The mission statement was key for me to get interested in USMS. I guess it's because I have been working in nonprofits now for a long time, and mission statements are a big deal there. Did you notice, that mission statement does NOT imply anything at all about when you began swimming? It focusses on the positive things swimming does for the swimmer. I wonder what proportion of Americans swim competitively as students in high school or college? I suspect it has been small relative to the proportion that played baseball, basketball and football or soccer. So if we pursued only those who swam as youngsters, I don't think expanding membership is very realistic.

    But the gap out there, is there is not a nationwide organization that is strictly promoting swimming, full stop. I don't know whether I will EVER compete. I'm just starting to learn how to swim (although I "swam" as a kid on vacations, etc.). I have found these forums a very friendly, encouraging space. If you want to really expand membership, then it would be good to have promotions of the competitive side (for former competitive swimmers) and also, promotions for the more individual or social, or whatever, other "side." I like the swim log, and I like having caps and lanyards with the USMS logo on them.

    Running has made nearly every track event into a kind of running festival - maybe swim meets do the same? (I haven't been to any yet) Have vendor spaces, and work with aquatic businesses to show off fun, new swim aids and accessories?

    Far too few adults I meet around pool facilities, swim, themselves. Over the summer, nearly every adult at the pool where I went, was there because their kids were splashing around. I wonder if this is the same, around the world? It would be lots more fun if parents (and grandparents) in the pool with the kids, would swim at least a little, as well as keep an eye on the kiddies. Or at least, that's my personal view. (I am definitely a swimming grandmother - I share watching with my son and daughter-in-law and the great lifeguards, and I SWIM sometimes).
    Just enjoying swimming for fitness and relaxation, in Maryland


  6. #166
    Very Active Member Nichollsvi's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Great comment. There are 2 sides to the coin. The problem is that people who don't compete, don't join clubs, have the practices listed, and that's about all they want/need. I think there is also little promotion that masters' events are not like the competition when younger. They will include those people who are welcome to swim but don't swim as fast, but removing that mindset is hard to do. Its even harder for those who have never competed before.

    How does USMS remove that mindset? I don't know. How do they remove the stigma that meets are only for people who learned to swim as kids and were competitive? I don't know. I say that as I've told people, but its encumbent on the people to put that into their mindset. That is also if they want to.

    Second, I think USMS has also a drama/political issue that has never been resolved. That could also factor into it. There are other venues than USMS to swim in, so why pay for drama?

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